The Archaeal Na+/Ca2+ Exchanger (NCX_Mj) as a Model of Ion Transport for the Superfamily of Ca2+/CA Antiporters

Daniel Khananshvili*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The superfamily of Calcium/Cation (Ca2+/CA) antiporters extrude Ca2+ from the cytosol or subcellular compartments in exchange with Na+, K+, H+, Li+, or Mg2+ and thereby provide a key mechanism for Ca2+ signaling and ion homeostasis in biological systems ranging from bacteria to humans. The structure-dynamic determinants of ion selectivity and transport rates remain unclear, although this is of primary physiological significance. Despite wide variances in the ion selectivity and transport rates, the Ca2+/CA proteins share structural motifs, although it remains unclear how the ion recognition/binding is coupled to the ion translocation events. Here, the archaeal Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX_Mj) is considered as a structure-based model that can help to resolve the ion transport mechanisms by using X-ray, HDX-MS, ATR-FTIR, and computational approaches in conjunction with functional analyses of mutants. Accumulating data reveal that the local backbone dynamics at ion-coordinating residues is characteristically constrained in apo NCX_Mj, which may predefine the affinity and stability of ion-bound species in the ground and transition states. The 3Na+ or 1Ca2+ binding to respective sites of NCX_Mj rigidify the backbone dynamics at specific segments, where the ion-dependent compression of the ion-permeating four-helix bundle (TM2, TM3, TM7, and TM8) induces the sliding of the two-helix cluster (TM1/TM6) on the protein surface to switch the OF (outward-facing) and IF (inward-facing) conformations. Taking into account the common structural elements shared by Ca2+/CAs, NCX_Mj may serve as a model for studying the structure-dynamic and functional determinants of ion-coupled alternating access, transport catalysis, and ion selectivity in Ca2+/CA proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Article number722336
JournalFrontiers in Chemistry
StatePublished - 30 Jul 2021


  • CAX
  • NCKX
  • NCLX
  • NCX
  • ion
  • recognition
  • transport


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